Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Interesting developments in the USA

At the same time as Green Left has been establishing itself as a radical anti-capitalist current in the Green Party of England and Wales there have been interesting developments on the American left over the last six months. Some of this relates to the growth of the student anti-war movement in the states, and some is the coming together of some long established radicals for new ventures in cyberspace and networking.

The anti-Vietnam war movement of the 1960s saw the heyday of the radical student group, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). Inspired by Tom Hayden and the Port Huron Statement the group split into two or more fragments, some heading down the dead end of ‘Weathermen’ armed struggle, others soldiering on through fragmenting left groups, entryism, identity politics and community organising into the lean years of the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II eras. The current upsurge seems to have inspired US students to re-establish the SDS. A perhaps encouraging sign is that various members of the old pre-split SDS, (from various sides of the splits), are supporting the initiative and formed a “Movement for a Democratic Society” in September to offer financial support and hopefully, the benefit of their own experience, so that the new student anti-war radicals can avoid some of the pitfalls that the now grey haired 60s/70s radicals fell into. MDS has Chomsky, Howard Zinn and SDS veterans Dohrn, Rudd, Davidson, Hayden, Al Haber, Penelope Rosemont, Michael Klonsky, and others on board.



At the same time as all this, some of the long established radicals like Carl Davidson involved in the SDS/MDS project and followers of the mutualist-socialist economic theorist David Schwieckart have come together for a theoretical and organising project around the new website solidarityeconomy.com. This draws some ideas from the earlier ‘cyrev’ project and also draws on the thought of people such as Gramsci, Bukharin and Andre Gorz. There are some questions and problems with some of the stated approach so far, such as what appears to be residual over-centralism and a possibly problematic approach to alliances with “high road” capitalism (as with Porritt and some of those from the old Democratic Left tradition over here), but the analysis and willingness to question sacred cows is refreshing. Their security consciousness may seem a little paranoid to British radicals, but then you remember that older American radicals have the memory of the havoc wreaked by the FBI’s Cointelpro programme, police infiltration and other secret state activities on the socialist and progressive movements in America in the 60s and 70s. (as their parents and grandparents had the memory of MCCarthyism in the 50s and vicious attacks on organised labour all the way back to the Pinkerton men.) Hopefully the new movements can begin to rescue the US youth,anti-war and political radical movements from the domination by manipulative sectarians and dogmatists that the equivalent movements suffer from over here, and begin to renew the appeal of the ideas of participatory democracy, unity and dynamic theoretical development that were the best legacy of the radical movements of the older generation.

I watch the US situation with interest for further developments.

I have added links for various of these groups and individuals to the appropriate sections of my links column.

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